“Everyone sees who you appear to be, few experience who you really are.” – Unknown
There is so much going on in the world today. Situations that will indeed test our resolve, faith and at times even our ability to believe in humanity. From what we read and hear on the media, to our own personal experiences we are constantly being bombarded with new challenges. During any trial or tribulation, whether it is personal or has some type of indirect impact on our lives, our will and sheer person that we claim to be will be put to the test. So what kind of person are you? Do you stand for what you believe in no matter what the circumstances are? Do you have faith and belief in times of great doubt? Do you cower and run when things get difficult? Are you the last man or woman fighting in a given situation, or are you the first one to hide? I am not here to judge how you respond or what you do, for we have all had are own times of each I am almost certain of it. But who are you really? It certainly behooves us to know the answer to this question and ones like it, since the decision can have a direct impact on our personal growth, emotional well-being and how we interact with others.
I have come to understand that nothing says, “This is who I am!”, except like how I choose to respond during and after experiencing a hard time. Of course there are many factors that affect this disposition, from my faith, my personal beliefs, my will, my emotional state, the amount of courage I can muster and the amount of fear I allow to infiltrate my thoughts. We all have a breaking point where we want to give in, ease the pain or surrender to our weaknesses. Ultimately it is that point where we want to tap-out and then finally act on it. We each will arrive at that stage at different times given the opportunity to experience a similar trial. And truly that is a part of the beauty of life. We are all different with varying propensities and those whom we find ourselves connected to may be just the people we need to help see us through, or push us towards the end of a difficult time. And I suppose the contrast of that is equally true. Invariably, there will be some we absolutely do not need in our lives during personal struggles as well, but I digress.
I can remember things I said I would never do, or would always do given a specific situation until I was faced with that actual thing. Now granted, I can say that I do not intentionally hurt people, but I most certainly have and more than likely I will again. I have never committed a murder, but have certainly killed people with my words or thoughts. Again, not my intention, but at times I found myself in a vulnerable place and it took the actual circumstance to reveal the ugliness that existed within me. In the real moment I was disappointed, taken back and sometimes perplexed with my reactions, especially when I thought I already had this type of thinking or action mastered, but nonetheless it was an eye opener for me. A moment for me to take inventory on who I really was, versus who I claimed to be. Sometimes the two fail to line up, however it is times like this where I see myself in earnest, and it is times like this that allow me to put in the work and grow up a little bit more.
So in my humble opinion, it is the tragic moments, unexpected life events and grave disappointments that test who we really are at are core. These times have tested my convictions and staunch beliefs in all things, including my faith in God. As a Christian and former pastor, this may seem unbelievable or sound like the unpardonable sin for me to even confess, especially to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but the opinions of others truly have no baring on who I am or what stage I am in my walk. All I know is it has been the tragic events and major life setbacks that have forced me to grow like nothing else has and I believe in my heart that God has walked with me during each phase, even when I was living like my own worse or often times my only enemy.
There were scriptures that I knew and quoted for many years and I truly believed they were rooted in me. After all, I taught on them for many years in church, but there is nothing like being uprooted on what you thought you knew, only to realize that perhaps you do not, or at least not like you thought you did. How humiliating and embarrassing this season was for me, but I am grateful for the grace and mercy of God through Jesus.
I discovered so much about myself during this season of my life. I learned that true humility can only be understood after experiencing some form of personal humiliation, and not the kind you simply read about, but the type that you live out. The type where you are picking your own (figurative) face up off the ground. This is where I learned that my words, although sincere and true, (at least what I understood at the time) fell way short of the ideal.
At the end of the day, discovering myself and strengthening my personal relationship with God and with others was all worth it. I hurt, but the pain lessened eventually. I misunderstood, but light was finally shed on what I did not know. I was lost, but learned over time who I truly am as a man.
My worst days were and are not my end. They were and are the beginning of a new journey. A journey of discovery, with my ears, eyes and heart wide open. A moment that will last for the rest of my life. A moment that continues and conveys who I am really, first to myself and then to the world.
So whatever you find yourself facing, never give in or quit midstream. There is more to learn, more to discover and there is more to who you really are. Sometimes the hard things we experience in life will prove that, we just have to be willing to go through it.